Tana arrived at Care for Wild on the 15th March 2014. She was about 2 months old on arrival, weighed about 140 kg, and was in shock. After her mom was poached, Tana was found wandering the wilderness. A vet was called to dart her but the vet’s equipment and vehicle was stolen so a cattle vet was called instead. The cattle vet fired a dart but missed and had no more tranquilizers.
With no chemicals left, Tana was run down on foot and tackled in order to be put into a crate for transportation. When she arrived, Care for Wild put her on drips and she was placed on foal replacement milk (Denkavit). A week later she developed diarrhoea. Care for Wild took samples of her defecation and sent it to a lab.
It was found that she had a strain of bad bacteria in her gut, for which she received treatment. She recovered well and began her journey of rehabilitation. Often when a baby rhino is rescued, they are in shock, very stressed and dehydrated. The stress has a big influence on the flora in the gut of the rhino which often leads to diarrhoea.
From experience, preventative measures, such as providing specialized ulcer medication, have been put in place to protect the tummies of new baby rhinos arriving at Care for Wild in order to improve their well-being and give them a fighting chance of survival.
Tana was bottle fed 2 litres of milk seven times in 24 hours every day for 8 months. Thereafter, her feeding frequency decreased over time as she grew while still maintaining the correct amount of fluid intake per day according to her weight. At the same time she was provided with solid food (grass). The baby rhinos drink 2-3 % of their body weight in fluids. She was introduced to other orphaned rhinos a few weeks after her arrival.
Tana has since grown immensely, and as of the 25th August 2016, has been completely weaned off of her milk. Rhinos are usually weaned at 18 months but due to the harsh, dry winter, Care for Wild kept the rhinos on milk until the weather improved.
She weighs over 600 kg at the age of 3 years old. She has bonded closely with two other orphans, Wyntir and Mabush. This close bond helps in their rehabilitation process and future release. Interacting with others of their species is a vital part of the rehabilitation and release program at Care for Wild.
In the morning the team at Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary lets Tana out to graze in the camp from 08:30-15:30 with Wyntir and Mabush as well as 3 other orphans of a similar age. Since being let out into the fields to graze, the rhinos have limited human interaction; only when they are brought in and out of the bomas. The limited human contact is another vital component of the rhinos’ rehabilitation and release program.
There is a guard watching over the rhinos at all times, day and night, 24/7. The rhinos usually take a nap between 10am and noon in the shade. They get supplemented dry feeds in the afternoon when they return to their enclosure due to the dry harsh winter when the nutritional value of the grass in the field is low.
Their water is also treated with Game-Min which consists of vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids. The dry feeds they receive are Lucerne hay, Eragrostis teff hay, as well as specially formulated Rhino pellets. They each eat about 10 kg of food a day.
The rhinos also have teff bales available in their day camps. With the seasonal changes taking place now, Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary is monitoring the rhinos closely as changes in diet can cause an upset stomach. At night, the rhinos sleep together in their groups in night pens. Hay is used as bedding for the rhinos to have a soft, warm and comfortable place to sleep.